Friday, January 12, 2007

Haiku Poetry Friday

I try to write a haiku every day. Sometime when I am driving or cooking I am muttering to myself and counting syllables with my fingers tapping on the steering wheel or counter. Buddy Boy says “are you making a poem again?” Then he wants to hear it when I get it ironed out. Often he will then make up one of his own and recite it to me in a sing song voice. I wish I was quicker with a pen so I could write his poems down. They always sound fantastic but he can’t repeat them for me because they are completely extemporaneous and I am not sharp enough in the memory to get them down.

I brought a few haiku books home from school to write up my Friday Poetry post. Buddy wanted to hear If Not For the Cat, haiku by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Ted Rand tonight for his story time. He is really developing an ear for haiku. Prelutsky’s haiku focuses on animals and tells quirky little qualities related to each one. There are no season words, a requirement of classical haiku, but several of them do have the sharp, clear images of a single moment and the contrasting perspectives between second and third lines that give good haiku its depth. Really good haiku paints you a picture in one or two brush strokes and rings like a bell. It shows you a whole new world in one snap. Here are my two favorites from this collection:

Moth -

How foolish I am.
Why am I drawn to the flame
Which extinguishes?

Mouse -

If not for the cat
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.

Jellyfish –

Boneless, translucent,
We undulate, undulate,

That last one really shows Prelutsky’s love of multi-syllabic words. He cracks himself up with his five syllable kickers I think. It’s a real talent when writing haiku, I admit.

I wish I could give you a good picture of Ted Rand’s illustrations because they really make this book spectacular. I tried taking a photo but the lighting is terrible in my room tonight and it is not happening. You’ll just have to look for this book in the library or bookstore and sit down and enjoy it. Buddy liked it so much he wanted it twice and then went back over it one more time. He learned a few new animals I think, like the ant-eater and rattlesnake. This book is the perfect introduction of haiku for young children. They will love making some of their own after studying this collection.

Visit Big A little a for a round up of Poetry Friday posts this week.


MotherReader said...

I loved this book too. It's so beautiful and expressive. Great pick.

Lady S said...

In Vermont we have two book lists, chosen by committee, voted on my students. One is the Dorothy Canfield Fisher ("famous" VT author) and the other is the Red Clover (our state flower). If Not for the Cat is/was on the DCF list. It is a cute book.

Elaine Magliaro said...

IF NOT FOR THE CAT really is a lovely book of haiku poetry. I agree with you about Ted Rand's art in the book. In my opinion, it was one of the best illustrated books of 2004.

Erin O' said...

Thanks for the rec. on this book. I'm going to look for it at the library.

I love the mouse haiku. If not for the cat...

My dog says "if not for the squirrel..."